After 16 years shouldn't I know this?


I am 25 years old and on October 31st of this year, I will have been diabetic for 16 years. Since I joined Juvenation, I have been noticing a word that I've never seen before when it comes to T1D talk. I know it must only have something to do with insulin pumps, because I've never been on a pump and I only see this word when the subject of the conversations are about insulin pumps. The word is BOLUS or BOLUSES. Its a new word for my vocabulary. I am starting to look into getting the pump, and I just want to know what Bolus means. Or what it stands for? Is there an equation that I can use to figure out what my Bolus is? I know I am probably wrong in this but does it have something to do with keytones? I am very curious about this. I want to learn about it.

Help me understand!



i've been diabetic for 16years and have never heard "bolus" before (or just didnt pay attention if my endo used that word haha) but it's pretty much just a word for fast-acting. mostly used by pump users, as the machine actually says "bolus" when you go to give yourself insulin for correction or meal or whatever. and basal rate is the hourly short-acting that the pump gives you as your background insulin..which would be long-acting insulin acting if you're not on the pump.

Bolus is the fancy word for when you add insulin to cover food or high bs.

[quote user="Debra Stankovich"]I just want to know what Bolus means. Or what it stands for?[/quote]

Bolus is a word, not an acronym, so I'm almost positive you'll find it in the dictionary. The only connection between bolus and ketones is that if you are showing positive ketones you will almost certainly need to take a bolus of insulin, either by pump or injection, to correct for the ketones. When you are on injections, every injection of fast acting insulin is a bolus.


Another fun fact, when you take a bite it is technically a bolus of food. We talked about food boluses in my nutrition class. 

Most Type 1 diabetics I know use basal/bolus control. Basal insulin is the slow acting insulin that lasts 24 hours, hopefully holding you steady and near your chosen target. Basal insulins include Lantus and Levimir. Bolus insulins are fast acting insulins that are used prior to meals and snacks, and to correct highs that occur. Bolus insulins include Humalog, Novolog and Apidra.


im with ajax...


bolus (plural boli or boluses)

  1. a round mass of something, especially of chewed food in the mouth or alimentary canal
  2. a single, large dose of a drug, especially one in that form

Usage notes

  • Boli is the somewhat more common plural form of bolus in scholarly use.

I was just diagnosed on 8-20-10 and i learned from the hospital that a bolus dose is the insulin you take for food you eat.  I'm not on the pump either.

[quote user="Joe"]


bolus (plural boli or boluses)

  1. a round mass of something, especially of chewed food in the mouth or alimentary canal
  2. a single, large dose of a drug, especially one in that form


Hum, even if I took 1 or 2 units I'd consider it a bolus if it was to cover food. "Boli" can be very mysterious. (;

In class we learned bolus is a dose given one time, basal is a rate a drug is given by iv pump; pump;

or other way for a given time example basal would 2 lpm (liters per minute) 24 hours a day.   bolus 25g

d50 iv slow push. sorry it was the 1st drug I could think of dose that was a bolus.

When using a only use one insulin.  Fast acting.  My boys use Novalog.  The pump delivers little puffs of insulin all day long whether you eat or not.  This insulin is called the Basal insulin.  (This basal insulin will replace your longer term insulin, like Lantus or NPH.)  When you give yourself insulin to cover carbs when you eat, or to correct a high number, that is called a bolus. 

When you get a pump, your pump will be programed with around 5 different basal rates, or different amounts delivered to you throughout the day.  Many people have higher basal rates in the morning, and less in the afternoon.  Your pump will deliver these basal amounts as you sleep too. 

When you wake, you'll bolus yourself for your breakfast.  Pressing a few buttons delivers this insulin for you.  Your ratios will all be programed in, it will do the math and calculate your insulin on board, or IOB.

Good luck with getting your pump!!

Hey Debra, don't get down on yourself. I've had Diabetes since I was 3... technically 5... but that means I've been doing this diabetes dance for 21 years and I STILL don't know a lot of the lingo and tricks that every other T1D seems to know. I didn't even know you could call it T1D until I got in with Juvenation. Its tough when you don't have a group of people you can get face time with every day. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the periphery of the whole d*** thing. But you're doing the only thing you can do, which is ask questions and build relationships. I commend you for it!

Also, bolus and basal rate are good words to know so you can speak doctor lingo, but seriously we know what you're talking about when you say "I gave myself 14 units for food today holy crap!" You're not less educated, uninformed, or a bad diabetic for not jumping on the lingo train. Bolus and basal are the words used to describe how the actual cells of the pancreas use insulin in the body, so on a happy note... How sweet is it that the pump so closely mimics an actual functioning pancreas? You will certainly love the pump for that ability! Good luck to you, and send a message if you ever want to talk about being 20 somethings with this crappy disease :)


Bolus: the insulin you give for any level over your target range and/or the food you eat.

Basal rate: the constant drip of insulin you set up in the pump which allows for you to maintain your target level.